Chapter Eleven Significant Parisian Locations Visited in The Da Vinci Code
La Musee du Louvre is the national museum and art gallery of France. It is situated in part of a large palace that was built on the site of the twelfth century fortress of Philip Augustus. King Francis I had it demolished and the present building was constructed. He was a great art collector and subsequent monarchs added both to the Louvre and the art collection during their reigns.
When Louis XIV moved his court to Versailles, the Louvre ceased to be a royal palace and it was first used as a public gallery in the eighteenth century In the 1980s and 1990s the museum was refurbished in order to ease access to the public. A large complex of amenities and a shopping mall was opened under the Louvre and the controversial steel-and-glass pyramid was built in the courtyard ( the Cour Napoleon) which had been designed by the American architect, I.M. Pei. He also designed the new wing which has an area of 230,000 square feet.
The pyramid does not have 666 panes of glass, as Dan Brown claims, but 67 5 diamond shaped and 118 rectangular panes. It is 79 feet tall and flanked by three smaller pyramids.
The Louvre’s collection of fifteenth -nineteenth century paintings is without parallel in the world and the rest of the gallery covers a vast area of art, antiquities and many treasures that belonged to the French royal family.
La Pyramide Inversee is located in the underground shopping mall just west of the Louvre to which it connects. The whole structure is made of glass which allows sunlight to enter.
L’Eglise de Saint-Sulpice
The Church of Saint-Sulpice is situated on the corner of rue Paletine on Place de Sulpice. It has two towers and the church has a heavy and massive look to it. On the left-hand tower there is, perhaps incongruously, the Hebrew inscription JAHWE. The plan of the church and the size are the same as of Notre Dame. The construction of the church started in 1646 on the remains of a smaller church. As there were interruptions to the building, there are many different architectural styles represented. The copper line representing the Paris meridian line, or “roseline,” runs through the choir. The precursor of the telegraph, known as the Chappe system, which was a visual signal line between Paris and Rouen, was fixed on the roof and used until 1850. Baudelaire and the Marquis de Sade were baptized in the church and Victor Hugo got married there in a special ceremony in 1822.
Jean-Jacques Olier founded the Seminary of Saint-Sulpice (the Sulpicians) and was associated with the Compagnie de Saint-Sacrement, which we looked at in detail in Chapter Ten’s section on Secret Societies. The church is thought to have been the center of its activities. When the documents of the Compagnie de Saint-Sacrement were recalled because of continued opposition from Louis XIV, they are thought to have been hidden in Saint-Sulpice.
The Sulpicians dedicated themselves to the training of candidates for the priesthood and the order was named after Sulpicius, a bishop of Bourges in Merovingian times. They founded the city of Montreal in Canada, and built Notre-Dame Basila there in 1829. Interestingly their symbol is two M’s, one upside down upon the other.
The Catholic Modernist movement was an organization that was founded in order to train experts to defend the literal meaning of the Bible. The idea backfired, however, as the more the “experts” studied the subject and noted the various inconsistencies in the Bible, the less they felt convinced of the truth of what was written. The Church eventually accused them of being Freemasons. The headquarters of the Modernist Movement was Saint-Sulpice.
This street starts at rue du Surmelin, 39 and finishes at boulevard Serurier, 67. It stretches from the nineteenth to the 20th arrondissements (districts) of Paris. There are no buildings between numbers 16 and 36; The Da Vinci Code’s Depository Bank of Zurich was supposedly at number 24, which does not exist. Neither does the bank, although the book’s publisher, Doubleday /Random House, has created a fake website at www.depositorybankofzurich.com
Le Chateau de Villette
The castle where The Da Vinci Code’s Leigh Teabing lives is situated 3 5 minutes northwest of Paris near Versailles. It was designed by architect Francois Mansart in about 1668 for Jean Dye!, the Comte d’Aufflay, Louis XIV’s ambassador to Venice and was finished in about 1696 by his nephew Jules Hardouin-Mansart. It is one of the most important chateaux in France and is now available for meetings, seminars, vacations, weddings and other special events. It has eleven bedrooms. There are two rectangular-shaped lakes in the 185 acre grounds. The Palace of Versailles was designed at the same time as le Chateau de Villette.